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House Democrats are Officially Coming After Your Magazines

Posted by William Kirk, Partner | Feb 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

House Democrats, announced Tuesday that they will be introducing sweeping new gun control legislation, including a magazine limitation of 10 rounds.  

The Democratic legislation, cosponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, would ban any magazine that exceeds 10 rounds of ammunition. The legislation, which has been dubbed the "Keep Americans Safe Act," currently has no Republican cosponsors, one of many obstacles that would stand in the way of it advancing.

During a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the Democratic legislators described the bill as one step in a process of passing individual gun control measures instead of a big comprehensive package.

"Guns become doubly and triply deadly in these massacres because of these high-capacity magazines," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. "And so if we take one simple step in approving this prohibition, we can literally save lives. There is no more simple, straightforward way to save lives from gun violence than to ban these high-capacity magazines."

On an issue that has consistently failed to advance in Congress and that many Democrats from more moderate or conservative districts don't want to vote on, the proposal marks a significant development. It comes as Democrats control the House and it follows years of deadly shootings, many of which included guns with high-capacity magazines. Most of the recent legislative proposals related to gun control have focused narrowly on ways to improve background checks for gun purchases, and those have also struggled to advance.

Democrats are hoping that the reaction to mass shootings -- especially those reactions from high school students -- can translate to pressure on members.

"The reality of a Democratic majority, sending legislation, I believe this week they're starting on background checks. That creates an impetus and a challenge for the Republican leader in the Senate," Menendez said at the news conference.

Before announcing the legislation, Deutch, who represents the district that is home to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community, pointed to a number of mass shootings, including Las Vegas and Sandy Hook, where "high-capacity magazines make those shooters dramatically more dangerous. You've got to take action to address it."

"The fact is that these high-capacity magazines allow someone to fire off more than 10 rounds in a row," Deutch added. "You don't need that if you're a hunter, you don't need that for any purpose. You don't need that for sporting purposes."

Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, said:

"This legislation would effectively ban the most commonly owned firearms for self-defense. It is an arbitrary limit pulled out of thin air with no evidence that the limits would improve public safety. In fact the after report from the deadliest school shooting in American history states that magazine limits would have had no impact. This is just more nonsense from anti-gun zealots who are looking to score political points by proposing legislation that would make criminals out of law-abiding citizens exercising their constitutional right to self-defense while doing nothing to deter criminals from committing crimes."

Menendez has collected around two dozen sponsors in the Senate, including a number of 2020 candidates like Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. The bill's supporters say the proposal has 65 members supporting it in the House.

This appears to be a new tactic by House Democrats.  Instead of trying to propose a sweeping piece of major legislation, instead they seem intent on introducing one bill after the other in the hopes of achieving gun control one restriction at a time. 

About the Author

William Kirk, Partner

Bill Kirk has been named a Super Lawyer by Washington Law and Politics Magazine every year since 2003. He currently serves on the Board of Regents to the National College for DUI Defense and is the President of the Washington Foundation for Criminal Justice. Bill is one of only two attorneys in this state to pass the National College's Board Certification Exam.

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